How CCTV Systems Have Evolved over Time

How Cctv Systems Have Evolved Over Time
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CCTV surveillance systems are one of the most common electronic systems we see today. They are used in shops, businesses, government departments, and homes for recording and monitoring purposes. While the video recordings from CCTV systems can be used as evidence for legal purposes, the presence of the system also deters criminals and discourages would-be burglars from targeting your home or business.

That being said, CCTV technology has evolved greatly since its inception. It is interesting to have a brief look at the evolution pathway of CCTV camera systems, where each stage has seen the introduction of new features and technologies that have improved convenience or results for CCTV users.

Stage 1: Monitoring System

The earliest known use of CCTV systems was in Germany in 1942. However, this system was used for monitoring purposes and was not capable of recording. It was a helpful tool for testing rockets as people could not stay on-site while the process is carried out due to the risks involved. To this day, cameras are used to monitor dangerous places, such as near radioactive materials, risky equipment, or inside sewer pipes.

Stage 2: VCR Recording

The next stage of CCTV system evolution in the 1980s saw the inclusion of VCRs (Video cassette recorders) and multiplexes. VCRs, or multiplexers, are connected to the camera and the monitor. This means that the signal from the camera can be recorded in the VCR as well as viewed on the monitor. The multiplexer helps to receive signals from multiple cameras and display them on a single screen in split-screen mode.

Before multiplexers, multiple monitors were needed to view different camera signals. Thanks to their recording potential, CCTV systems started to be used to gather evidence related to crime. However, you needed to keep a collection of VHS tapes as evidence or rewrite the same cassette tape many times over.

Stage 3: DVR Recording

Stage 3 Dvr Recording

The next leap came in the early 2000s when technology became digital. Instead of VCRs, DVRs (Digital video recorders) started to be used. This had many advantages over VCR recording, for example, DVRs have multiplexers built into them so that you can eliminate one device from the system. Furthermore, DVRs are more compact than VCRs as they don’t use bulky cassettes tapes. Instead, the digital video signal is recorded on a hard disk.

Based on hard disk storage capacity, you can record video signals for days or months and program it to automatically overwrite when it is full. Searching for the video of a particular date or time is also easy, as such information is also recorded. If needed, you can also copy a specific duration of the video onto a DVD (digital video disk) or a USB flash storage device. Such copied information makes it highly portable – it can easily be presented as evidence or used for any other purpose, such as for research or study.

Stage 4: Video Servers

By the mid-2000, DVRs were incorporated with built-in video servers. Such servers help to transmit the received video signal over a network. You could then easily access signals over the network using a digital device like a PC or smartphone, meaning you don’t have to be in front of a monitor to view the video feed, but instead you can be anywhere that has access to the network.

Stage 5: IP Cameras

The next advancement in CCTV systems was in the late 2000s when IP megapixel cameras started to be used instead of analogue. There are several differences between analogue cameras and IP cameras – previously, the signal from the analog camera was subjected to digitization at the DVR. On the other hand, with IP cameras, the unit itself gives out digital signals, meaning you enjoy much higher resolution for video recordings – around fives times as much!

In this system, you can easily access your videos over a wireless network from anywhere, as long you have access to the network. IP cameras are also easy to install as you don’t have to manage the complicated wiring found in analogue camera installation. Since the signals from the IP camera are already digital, you don’t need an analogue to digital conversion at the DVR, so you can use an NVR (Network video recorder) instead of a DVR to record and transmit video signals.

The application of the earliest CCTV systems was limited to research and defense purposes and so this technology was only used by government officials, scientists, and researchers. When the technology became more widespread, it found a range of commercial applications, though remained largely in the business world for many years.

Over time, this technology became further accessible to individuals for home use as costs came down. These days, CCTV systems are very common and every other household uses this technology. Technology is still evolving and we can’t wait to see what the future will bring!


How long have CCTV systems been around?

Germany used CCTV technology for the first time in 1942. In the 1940s, the engineer Walter Bruch developed a device for the monitoring of long-range ballistic missiles, the first of which were launched from mobile platforms.

Who Invented Modern CCTV?

Marie Van Brittan Brown invented a CCTV home security system that is still widely used in home security systems today (U.S. Patent 3,482,037). Siemens AG in Germany developed the first CCTV camera.

How does a CCTV system work?

A CCTV system begins with a camera or cameras taking images that are then transmitted via cable or wirelessly (depending on the type of system selected) to a recording device and then on to a display monitor, where an individual can view the sequence of images as video footage.

What role could CCTV play in crime investigations?

It is usually used by investigators to identify or locate a suspect. Video can also be used by investigators to determine whether an offense has occurred, observe relevant events surrounding an incident, corroborate victim accounts and generate investigative leads

Thank you for reading!